Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Games: The Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb Add-On

'The Binding of Isaac' is one of my favourite games of recent years, if not because of its huge replay value, then for its all-out random weirdness! Of course, just because I love it, doesn't mean I'm good at it and those of you that play the game will see by the heart above that I haven't made it past Sheol yet D:  Anyway, my failures aside, the new download content / add-on - 'Wrath of the Lamb' - was released yesterday and, following a short wait of about 5 minutes to download and install, much pact-making, blood-splattering, crying at monsters fun ensued! I don't want to say too much about the DLC since it only just came out and I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone who wants to play it, so I'll just give a general overview and accompany it with a bunch of random screenshots that Madame Luciel and I took earlier :D

Jesus Juice! One of the many new items in Wrath of the Lamb
The pack costs £1.99 from the Steam Store and you also need to have the base Binding of Isaac game as well, which is 60% off until June 3rd (it's £1.60 at the moment; usually £3.99). The new content includes a new, unlockable playable character, loads of new achievements and items, new 'passive' power-ups called "trinkets", a Challenge mode and many new enemies and bosses too! To be more specific:

  • 100+ new items! (now over 235 items!)
  • 5+ new chapters!
  • 20+ new enemies!
  • 25 new achievements!
  • 15+ new bosses!
  • 6+ new room types! (Unholy rooms, boss duel rooms & "sacrifice rooms")
  • 6+ new mysterious item drops (eternal hearts, playing cards, dimes and more!)
  • 5+ new music tracks by Danny Baranowsky
  • A new item type, Trinkets
  • A new challenge mode with 10 unique challenges that unlock more content
  • A new unlockable character, Samson (The Beserker)
  • A new final (final) chapter and boss with new endings
  • Tons of new random happenings, curses, blessings, npcs, fortune tellers and more!
  • Also more super secrets than you'd probably expect... good luck finding them all.

Samson, the new character, is unlocked by passing on 2 treasure rooms in one playthrough and then defeating Mom. He only has one heart to begin with, but his attack becomes stronger with each enemy he kills in a room to make up for that. The attack power resets at the beginning of each room though, so if there's only 2 enemies in a chamber it doesn't make a lot of difference. However, the ability works well if you're fighting an enemy-spawning boss. There's also a slight bug with Samson, because if he dies it signs his note as 'Eve' and she also appears in some of his "vs." screens as well. It isn't anything major though!
Overall, I'm really enjoying the extra content so far and maybe I'll even be able to finish Sheol now. (HA!) 

I Am Error
More screenshots after the cut below. (If you want to know anything else about / see anything else from the game, let me know and Luciel & I will try and write about / show you it :D )

Monday, 28 May 2012

Books: Devil Bat Diary by Peter H. Brothers

“DEVIL BAT DIARY - The Journal of Johnny Layton” by Peter H. Brothers 
Inspired by the famous 1940 film, “Devil Bat”, 'The Devil Bat Diary - The Journal of Johnny Layton' tells the “true” story of what really happened to the unhappy citizens of Heathville, Illinois, during that terrible prewar summer, as recorded in the long-suppressed journals of Chicago City Register’s principal newspaper correspondent, Jonathan “Johnny” Layton. 

The Devil Bats were furiously furry fiends created by a scientific genius who believes himself wrongfully relegated to concocting perfumes and colognes which he despises for wages not worth mentioning. So, as a means to an embittered end, he manufactures an evil ointment with a scent that so infuriates his giant bats to such an extent they feel compelled to tear the throats out of their unsuspecting victims. 
“Devil Bat Diary” tells for the first time the full inside story of what took place in ways not possible to show to Production Code audiences back then; did you know for example that Chief Wilkins loved Layton, or that Mary was a religious lunatic, or that Layton and his partner “One-Shot” McGuire couldn’t stand the sight of each other? 
Written to coincide with the 70th Anniversary of the film’s release and dedicated to the great Bela Lugosi, “Devil Bat Diary” is an unforgettably entertaining venture into a world filled with chirping Chiropterans, malicious murders, sacred sex and revolting revelations.  
Three-time Rondo Classic Horror Award nominee Peter H. Brothers is also the author of “Mushroom Clouds and Mushroom Men – The Fantastic Cinema of Ishiro Honda.” and is currently also working on another work - 'Terror in Tinseltown'. For more information you can visit his website below or buy the book on Amazon.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Places: Bodmin Jail

Bodmin Jail
Situated in the town of Bodmin in Cornwall, Bodmin Jail was a working Civil and Naval prison from its opening in 1779 until its closure in 1927. The buildings fell into disrepair and dereliction for many years, until it was bought by its current owners in 2004. Since then, the Jail has been undergoing extensive renovations and currently houses a 6 level museum of sorts, which allows visitors to learn about the crimes, their perpetrators - from delinquent children to serial murderers - and the punishments given to them during the prison's history. 

Victim and murderer
Whilst that might sound a little bit boring, it's actually pretty interesting - entertaining even - and many of the cells now contain models / mannequins and scenery depicting both the crimes committed and the punishments exacted, complete with explanation signs on the walls next to them. It's not a fairground haunted house, by any means, but the dark, strangely lit models and passageways coupled with the echoing sounds, low / strangely-angled ceilings and shiver-inducing temperatures give the museum portion of the building a somewhat eerie atmosphere. 

 A priest and nun with a corpse in a coffin
In addition to the museum, Bodmin Jail is said to have quite a lot of paranormal activity and also hosts ghost walks a few times a month. There were certaintly lots of deaths and executions on the grounds including a prisoner that committed suicide outside the prison gates in 1839 and the double hanging of brothers for murder, which approximately 25,000 people attended in 1840 (as a source of entertainment). The execution pit used for hanging still exists and the Jail website invites visitors to:
"Come and see the only working execution pit in the UK. Discovered during renovation works in 2005, the pit has now been restored to its’ full working order, with the able assistance of Gary Ewart, one of the UK’s leading authorities on hanging."
A hanging exhibit
In addition to the museum area and execution pit, there are also grounds (temporarily closed for renovations at the time of writing), stables artifacts, a film room and a bar / restaurant. The bar had a rather unusual, fake jackalope head adorning one of its shelves (pictured below), which along with other such amusing eccentricities like the mannequin hands in the corner of the jail ceiling (pictured after cut) and the outside door with the address "001 Cemetery Lane" (pictured after cut), make the site more fun to explore.

'Jackalope' in the bar
For more information about opening times, entry fees (for the museum) and other details you can visit the Bodmin Jail websites:
More photos after the cut below↓:

Places: Black Cat Junction

Black Cat Sign
Whilst driving along a road near Bampton in Devon we came across this sign featuring a rather spooky looking black cat! It seemed a little random, until we saw another sign nearby:

Black Cat Junction

I guess not everyone was so amused by the eerie feline though, as even further along our journey we found another sign that simply read 'cats eyes removed'. Unfortunate choice of wording!

Cats eyes removed sign

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Places & Traditions: Madagascan 'Turning of the Bones'

Image source: Massimo Branco
Famadihana, or 'turning of the bones' is tradition of the Malagasy people in Madagascar. People remove their relatives from the family crypts, approximately every seven years, and replace their burial shrouds with fresh cloth. Then, in the embodiment of the Madagascan saying "alive, we live together in the homes; dead, we live together in the tombs", they then proceed to carry the bodies and dance around with them to live music playing near the tomb.

Image source: Joao Silva for The New York Times
They perform the ceremony to both honour and celebrate their ancestors, while also reuniting their whole family at the same time. It is also part of a belief that the dead only join the world of the ancestors after many years, when the body's decomposition is complete, and various rituals have been performed.


Sunday, 6 May 2012

May Monster Madness: Monster Voices with Sulfur Hexafluoride

Image Source: Arthur's Monster Clipart

Have you ever wanted to have a mega-deep, booming monster voice to scare your friends with but been disappointed when you found only helium, which makes it super-squeaky instead? Well, stop being disappointed and get yourself some of the chemical compound sulfur hexafluoride instead! 

Helium is much less dense than air and so allows the vocal chords to vibrate at a higher rate, making your voice sound much higher. Sulfur hexafluoride, however, is approximately 5 - 6 times denser than air at room temperature, which forces vocal chords to vibrate more slowly and in turn makes your voice sound much lower. The effects don't last long, unfortunately, but you can sound like an evil monster overlord for a minute or two at least!

Check out the videos below to see the gas in action:

This post is part of the May Monster Madness blog hop & Science Sunday!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

May Monster Madness: Plaseebo at Monster Mayhem

First of all, apologies for our blog link not working earlier today. It's all fixed and fine now :) Anyway, that out of the way, time for some monsters!

Fittingly enough, FOE Store & Gallery in Western Massachusetts are holding an exhibition called 'Monster Mayhem' soon, which features the work of figure makers / customisers from all over the world, all with the terrifically terrifying theme of monsters! Here's what the FOE website has to say about the event:

Monster Mayhem

May 11 - June 3, Opening May 11, 6-9pm 
For the 2nd year monsters from across the US and as far away as Japan descend on the town of Northampton and wreak havoc.   
This year’s roster includes work from:
Brian Mahony, Bob Conge/Plaseebo, Monster Worship, James Groman, Koji Harmon, Elegab, Miles Nielsen, Michael Nordstrom, Ricky Wilson/Velocitron, Martin Ontiveros, Bob Eggleton, Michael Skattum, Eric Talbot, Joe Merrill/Splurrt, Dennis Hamann/Shirahama, Steven Erst, Mark Nagata, Paul Kaiju, Stephen Blickenstaff, Mark Masztal, and Michael Bracco/Spaghetti Kiss

"Braineniac" vinyl with LED unit by Plaseebo
Even if you can make the Monster Mayhem event, the FOE Store & Gallery alone sounds like an intriguing place to visit, with items including: "subculture art, designer toys, kaiju and kawaii. Whether it’s custom-painted monsters or tiny cute things, FOE is curated to inspire". Not only that, but they try to bring creators together for both domestic and international projects / collaborations, so who knows what you might find there!

Take a sneak peak at some more of the monsters contributed to the show by Bob Conge of Plaseebo, after the cut below!

This post is part of the May Monster Madness blog hop!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

May Monster Madness: The Last Survivors - UK Zombie Experience

While reading Autumnforest's Ghost Hunting Theories blog, I came across a zombie event that boasts that it is "the most realistic ‘film like Zombie Survival’ experience in the UK". So, I thought I'd share it with our readers here as well!

The Last Survivors

"The event is set in a real life, Government Nuclear Fallout Bunker. Although de-commissioned after World War 2, everything is still in working order.

You have survived the initial outbreak, escaped the infected and are now following a radio transmission through the desolate wastes of England… Your destination? A military bunker in the Essex countryside.

From the moment you arrive at the base you will be thrown into the apocalypse, everyone you meet will be in character, it is a totally immersive experience. Under the armed guard of specialty unit, the C.I.D.C and safely behind the blast doors of the bunker, you can breathe a sigh of relief and start to live a normal life… Just as long as nothing goes wrong…

During the 2 hour long experience you’ll be thrown into the middle of a zombie movie. Characters you’ll love to hate, difficult decisions, story changing events and all the great cliches that make watching horror so fun! You will not be fighting the zombies directly, the C.I.D.C are locked, loaded and will do their best to keep you safe. Do you have what it takes to survive?"

The experience lasts for 2 hours (without a break) and is run in 3 groups of 6 over the night (6pm - 8pm, 8pm - 10pm, and 10pm - 11:59pm). It costs £50 per ticket and anyone over the age of 16 is admitted. Due to the limited number of places each night, you will need to book in advance though, as anyone turning up without a ticket will be turned away.  At the end of each run through, all survivors will be offered free tea and coffee, and there's also a shop and cafe if you want to buy any souvenirs or food. It sounds like a pretty fantastic experience, which could easily be adapted over time to stop it getting stale and encourage repeat visits. Plus the UK really needs more horror events all year round! 

The organisers are currently running an offer of 30% off the ticket price in May on their Facebook page. You need to 'like' their page to get the discount count.

To find out more about the event and book tickets, visit The Last Survivors Website or to find out more about the location, you can go to the website of the secret underground bunker at Kelvedon Hatch.

This post is part of the May Monster Madness blog hop!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

May Monster Madness: The Wellcome Collection

From May 1st - 7th we're taking part in the May Monster Madness blog hop! It's kindly being organised by Annie Walls, and the goal is to post about something spooky or monster-related every day for seven days. Obviously, that's what we always post about here, but the event is open to bloggers of all genres too!

I'm a little monstered-out today (shocking, I know!), so for the first post I'm going to share some of the spooky and strange exhibits on show at the Wellcome Collection in London! It's a museum filled with tons of unusual and fascinating items relating to medicine over the ages. I hadn't heard of until last year when Kei, of Unfortunately Oh!, suggested we should visit it during a trip to London. It's such an intriguing place and many of the exhibits are interactive, providing yet another layer of interest.

There's much more than just creepy crawlies and oddities - artificial limbs, paintings, glass eyes, masks, folk art, mirror etchings, a table full of all the pills a person takes in their life, exhibits about the human genome and DNA, figurines, torture devices and so much more! They also have temporary exhibits that change every few months as well. However, since this is for May Monster Madness, I'll leave out the other photos this time.) Oh, and did I mention that it's totally free to get in?

The above exhibit was a little larger than life-size (the transparent figure in the background was a cross-section of a real human body) and when you press the buttons on the podium, the part of the body listed next to them lights up on the model. We noticed that compared to all the other parts of anatomy, the brain was not very bright!

There were also a few blocks of shelves filled with anatomical models of assorted human body parts nearby as well (pictured above). 

The above wonderful pair were in one of the displays in the 'End of Life' section of the 'Medicine Man' area. As was the gorgeously intricate sculpture made out of wax and cloth:

And these Egyptian canopic jars (jars used to house the internal organs of the dead being prepared for mummification):

In a different area of the same room there was a Peruvian mummy. There was a drawer you could pull out underneath, with a cast of his hand inside, which you could touch. It was pretty strange really.

Those of you out there among the zombie population might also be pleased to know that they currently have an exhibit running (29th March - 17th June, 2012) called 'Brains: The Mind as Matter'.

"Our major new free exhibition seeks to explore what humans have done to brains in the name of medical intervention, scientific enquiry, cultural meaning and technological change. 
Featuring over 150 artefacts including real brains, artworks, manuscripts, artefacts, videos  and photography, 'Brains' follows the long quest to manipulate and decipher the most unique and mysterious of human organs, whose secrets continue to confound and inspire. 
'Brains' asks not what brains do to us, but what we have done to brains, focusing on the bodily presence of the organ rather than investigating the neuroscience of the mind."
Personally, I would love to see that one too! For now, however, I'll leave you with...the torture chair...

Looks comfy, eh? o.O;

This post is part of the May Monster Madness blog hop!

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